Posted by: L. E. Barnes | May 24, 2011

We’re Still Here

Well, it appears that Harold Camping’s prediction for the Rapture to occur this past Saturday went up in smoke. So how will he and his devotees cope with this grand disappointment? Apparently they’ll just emulate the examples of other prophet wannabes. In an Ignatius Insight blog post, Carl Olson sums things up nicely:

I figured that Harold Camping, the 1994 and 2011 voice of false prophecy (a two-time winner!), would either tweak his calculations (“I missed a leap year in the late third century B.C….”) or get all “spiritual” about his failed prediction. He went with the latter, perhaps mindful that another Rapture-date setting engineer, Edgar Whisenant had tried the former approach back in 1988 and became yesterday’s news faster than you can calculate the length of a yardstick. From the CNN blog:

Camping had kept a low-profile since Saturday, the day he had forecast for the return of Jesus Christ to Earth. He and his devoted followers have been warning for months that on May 21, a select 2% to 3% of the world’s population would be taken to heaven. Those left behind would face months of tribulation before perishing in the Earth’s destruction, which Camping said would happen on October 21.

This is the basis for his new prediction, which Camping claims is not new at all. He told listeners on his Family Radio broadcast Monday that God is “loving and merciful,” and had decided not to punish the humanity with five months of destruction.
But he maintains that the end of the world is still coming.

“We’ve always said October 21 was the day,” Camping said during his show. “The only thing we didn’t understand was the spirituality of May 21. We’re seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all.”

Ah yes, the ol’ “spiritual”, heavenly-not-earthly card. That’s original. Well, not really, as this Catholic Answers essay indicates:

The Seventh-Day Adventist church traces its roots to American preacher William Miller (1782–1849), a Baptist who predicted the Second Coming would occur between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. Because he and his followers proclaimed Christ’s imminent advent, they were known as “Adventists.” 

When Christ failed to appear, Miller reluctantly endorsed the position of a group of his followers known as the “seventh-month movement,” who claimed Christ would return on October 22, 1844 (in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar). 

When this didn’t happen either, Miller forswore predicting the date of the Second Coming, and his followers broke up into a number of competing factions. Miller would have nothing to do with the new theories his followers produced, including ones which attempted to save part of his 1844 doctrine. He rejected this and other teachings being generated by his former followers, including those of Ellen Gould White. 

Miller had claimed, based on his interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, that Christ would return in 1843–44 to cleanse “the sanctuary” (Dan. 8:11–14, 9:26), which he interpreted as the earth. After the disappointments of 1844, several of his followers proposed an alternative theory. While walking in a cornfield on the morning of October 23, 1844, the day after Christ failed to return, Hiram Edson felt he received a spiritual revelation that indicated that Miller had misidentified the sanctuary. It was not the earth, but the Holy of Holies in God’s heavenly temple. Instead of coming out of the heavenly temple to cleanse the sanctuary of the earth, in 1844 Christ, for the first time, went into the heavenly Holy of Holies to cleanse it instead.

One is reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s cynical, but appropriate, definition of “prophecy”: n. The art and practice of selling one’s credibility for future delivery. No surprise, bad prophets and poor credibility are two peas in the apocalyptic pod.

As the closing lines of each stanza of the song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” ask, “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” It looks like the answer is “NEVER.”



  1. Sola.

    • Yep, that’s the kind of stuff you get from that practice.

  2. This mad obsession with “rapture” and end of the world is a temptation from Satan to take the focus off having a closer relationship with Christ. I have a simple litmus test: does the prophesy/claim cause anxiety, fear, or chaos? If so, it is not from God Who gives us peace no matter what is happening in the world.

    • You may be right. Whether it’s caused by Satan or not, it nonetheless does lots of harm and no good whatsoever.

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